clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Back to U23 training after big words but just 18 mins at Euro 2017; time for Asoro to knuckle down

Joel Asoro will be back training with the Under-23 squad any day now after insisting he doesn't want to play Under-23 football any longer.

Sunderland's Under-23s return to training today after the summer break. Amongst the squad will be Joel Asoro - the lad who said two weeks ago that he doesn't want to play Under-23 football anymore.

That was ahead of the European Under-21 Championships as the young Swede pushed himself in front of the media to revel in newspaper rumours that he was wanted by Arsenal and a host of other top clubs this summer.

Presumably with the youngster told that the showcase of up-and-coming European talent - which is now drawing to a close - would put him in the shop window, Asoro insisted he will leave Sunderland in the coming weeks if he can't be assured of first team football next season.

Sunderland v Everton: Premier League 2
Asoro playing for Sunderland's Premier League 2 side at the Hetton Centre in January
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

But after just 18 minutes on the pitch at U21 Euro 2017, he's back at the Academy of Light this week - training with the teammates who just a matter of days ago the 18-year-old insisted he's better than.

A summer move may yet materialise, but now is the time for Joel Asoro to knuckle down and let his football do the talking after playing little more than a bit part in the Swedish squad who were knocked out of the European tournament mere days ago.

Asoro might not be arriving for duty just yet if he's been given a few extra days off after the summer competition ended for Sweden with defeat to Slovakia last Thursday. But after a few days of initial fitness work, the Under-23s will be training with the first team next month in Austria. Sunderland believe it will be beneficial for the youngsters to be more closely aligned with their first team counterparts in pre-season this year.

Burnley v Sunderland - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay
Asoro playing in the FA Cup Third Round in January
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

And with those transfer rumours gone quiet and Asoro back with his club, his recent boasts look a little stark for a player whose only part of Euro 2017 was a 72nd minute fleeting appearance when his country were already two goals down and facing an impending exit.

Asoro had begun his media onslaught ahead of the tournament by insisting he cannot see himself playing in the Sunderland Premier League 2 side next season:

For myself, I have to develop, I can not just play Under-23 football all the time. If you can not, I have to find something new.

A few days later, in a separate interview the 18-year-old was back on the same topic:

The thing is, I can not play Under-23 football anymore. It does not develop me and I need to find something else if we can not agree. You never know. Let's see what happens.

Though on the supposed interest from Arsenal, Asoro was at least clear that he was in Poland to play for his country, even if it would be for less than 20 minutes:

I try not to think about it too much. It came as a shock. It is clear clubs contact each oher and stuff, but it's my agent in charge of it. I try to focus on my football.

The Gunners' transfer link was a curious one in itself coming as it did on the eve of the Under-21 championships.

Though interest in Asoro has been widely reported for some time with scouts taking in his appearances, the story which was planted in the Sunderland Echo was a little conveniently timed - coinciding as it did on the eve of Sweden's opening game in the tournament beamed across Europe.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town: EFL Cup
Joel Asoro
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Asoro made his league debut last season with a ten minute cameo in the Wear-Tees derby in August. Making 16 appearances for the Under-23s, the young Swede scored two league goals and also turned out in the League and FA Cups for the first team.

With high hopes for his future and a pacy presence on the pitch, Asoro could yet make a significant breakthrough into Sunderland's Championship side in the upcoming campaign. Providing he gets his head down and concentrates on doing just that.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report